A few weeks ago President Biden delivered the exciting news that all American adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine by May 1st. However, the announcement was primarily focused on the supply of the vaccine. That’s just one aspect of the mass vaccination challenge we face -- another is to actually get people vaccinated. This poses the question: can employers help accelerate the process by getting their employees vaccinated onsite?
The answer is yes -- but it may not be an easy lift. For now, governments are still the primary lead in vaccine deployment, but the situation is evolving as the supply increases, which may create more opportunities for employers that want to do what they can to help get their businesses – and the US economy – back to normal as soon as possible.
If you have clinical infrastructure onsite, like an onsite clinic, or can contract with a vendor to provide clinical infrastructure, you can approach the local public health department to engage in a closed “Point of Dispensing” agreement to get an allocation of the vaccine. Then your organization takes on the logistics of administration, reporting, and other tactical implications. Obviously, this makes getting a shot very convenient for employees. And this scenario is also viewed favorably by public health departments since it eases their administration burden. However public health governance structures vary from state to state, so employers will need to check with their local department and keep on top of developments to see if this is permitted in their location. For multi-state employers, it means navigating multiple state (and country) requirements and developing approaches that vary from one state to the next.
But another scenario is emerging that employers can consider – partnering with private sector organizations. Private organizations such as pharmacies and community clinics have increasingly been getting allocations of vaccines directly from the federal government. We are also seeing hints that other private industry partners such as labs like Quest and LabCorp may end up getting allocations as well and, on top of that, the Biden administration recently announced that under the PREP act, essentially anyone who’s ever held a needle to administer a shot before (dentists, optometrists, veterinarians, medical students etc.) can be qualified to administer the COVID vaccine – another big hint that the private industry may be getting more allocations from the federal government.
The point here is that employers should start reaching out to all existing vendors and potential partners to begin discussions around administering the vaccine to their employees. Consider talking with your local hospital systems, clinics, pharmacies, medical carrier and PBM, onsite clinic vendors and other private industry partners. Providing the logistical organization to bring your employees all together to get vaccinated can be a convincing conversation to those partners tasked with administering vaccine. Plans are changing rapidly so better to be ahead of the pack. While it may not be a simple undertaking, making this type of commitment to helping employees get their shots may be one of the most effective ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Worksite vaccinations aside, it’s critical that employers continue to encourage employees to get vaccinated by issuing reliable information and leading by example by having senior managers in the organization share their vaccination experiences as soon as they can. Businesses can do their part by staying focused on the wellbeing of their people and supporting vaccination in other ways, such as by providing paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from side effects. Check out the results from our first survey of the 2021 pandemic survey series and find out what companies are doing to support the delivery of vaccines.